Golf Australia

Relief without penalty for an embedded ball in the rough

Relief for An Embedded Ball

2019 Rule: The current default position in the Rules will be reversed:

  • Rule 16.3 will allow relief for a ball embedded anywhere in the “general area” (that is, the area currently known as “through the green”), except when embedded in sand.
  • But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule restricting relief to a ball embedded in those parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less.
  • In taking relief, the player will drop the original ball or a substituted ball within one club-length of (but not nearer the hole than) the spot right behind where the ball was embedded.

Reasons for Change:

This is an appropriate exception to the principle of playing the ball as it lies because having to play a ball that is stuck in soft or wet ground (whether in the fairway or the rough) should not be considered part of the normal challenge of playing a course.

Allowing relief throughout the general area is consistent with other relief Rules, which do not make distinctions based on the height of the grass in the general area.

In many countries the Local Rule is sufficiently well established that golfers assume that the Rules always allow relief anywhere in the general area.

Reversing the default position will help avoid the confusion that sometimes exists today when clubs or players do not realize that such relief is not allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted.











Posted by Art at
03/10/2018 12:39 PM
Sorry. Just read ahead to get my answer re sub ball.
Posted by Art at
03/10/2018 12:36 PM
Why allow a substituted ball be dropped ? Does this mean one can substitute their ball at any time they take relief a relief drop ?
Posted by Dave at
15/08/2018 05:32 PM
There appears to be inconsistency in the new rule. Relief is given where the ball is embedded in soft ground off the fairway but not in sand - where the ground to the left and right of the fairway consists wholly of soft sand and sparse grass/plants.

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